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European body says aspartame is safe for human consumption

The report suggests that the current acceptable intake of aspartame has shown no negative health effects and neither have its breakdown elements.
Posted By Ananth Baliga Follow @antbaliga Contact the Author   |   Updated Dec. 10, 2013 at 10:55 AM
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Dec. 10 (UPI) -- The European Food Safety Authority said that artificial sweetener aspartame is safe for human consumption given the current exposure levels. Aspartame has already received widespread regulatory approval including from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization.

But the sweetener, used in some foods and beverages, continues to face controversy concerning potential health risks, and even its production. A European patent revealed earlier this year that aspartame is produced using E. coli microorganisms genetically modified and cultivated to produce the required aspartic acid-phenylalanine amino acid segment as a waste product.

According to the EFSA, the current acceptable daily intake of 40mg/kg of body weight per day is safe for the general population. They added that the breakdown components of the sweetener also do not possess any health risks.

The report comes as diet soda sales have dropped 6.8 percent in the 12 months ending Nov. 23, largely due to reports of negative health effects and links to weight gain, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Susan Swithers of Purdue University claimed in a recent study that the sweetener could provoke "metabolic derangement."

After reviewing studies conducted on humans and animals, experts ruled out any potential for inducing cancer or gene damage. The study also showed no harm to the brain, nervous system or cognitive behavior. With regards to pregnant women the acceptable daily intake posed no threat to the fetus or the mother, except in women suffering from the medical condition phenylketonuria.

Aspartame's breakdown elements -- namely phenylalanine, methanol and aspartic acid -- are also found in other natural foods and at low levels were safe for consumption.

“This opinion represents one of the most comprehensive risk assessments of aspartame ever undertaken. It’s a step forward in strengthening consumer confidence in the scientific underpinning of the EU food safety system and the regulation of food additives,” said Dr. Alicja Mortensen of the EFSA.


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